Buffy Season Eight Vol. 4: Time of Your Life
“There was a battle,” the story went. “A slayer, possibly with some mystical allies, faced an apocalyptic army of demons. And when it was done, they were gone. All demons, all magicks, banished from this earthly dimension.” At the end of television series, however, Buffy Summers did the opposite—not only did she defeat the army of the First Evil, she did so by creating her own army of slayers. Using the power of a mystical scythe that was passed down through generations, witch Willow Rosenberg was able to activate all of the potential slayers in the world and change the term “Chosen One” into “Chosen Many.” A discrepancy thus existed between the storylines of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Fray, and the fourth installment of the Buffy Season Eight comic book series, entitled “Time of Your Life,” highlights these differences when Buffy herself is transported 200 years into the future and comes face-to-face with Melaka Fray.
In the installment immediately preceding “Time of Your Life,” the Drew Goddard-penned “Wolves at the Gate,” a group of Japanese vampires stole the scythe from the Scottish castle that Buffy currently calls home. Although the source of all slayer power was ultimately retrieved, “Time of Your Life” opens with Willow receiving a mystical message concerning the item. In short, a supernatural event is about to occur in New York City—and Buffy Summers needs to be there for it. Willow deduces that the event pertains to a ripple effect passing through time but as for the exact meaning of the occurrence to come, she is in the dark.
When the appointed hour arrives, Buffy finds herself in the future and squaring off against Melaka Fray. Fray was initially fighting a demon that switched time and space with Buffy and is thus disbelieving when some dead slayer from the past suddenly appears in her present. Then there’s the language barrier—in the English of the future, “a spin is a lie, toy is bad, but spled is good.” Buffy Summers, meanwhile, speaks in her own foreign language known as Slayer Slang. “I should have treated it better,” she laments in regards to the English language upon discovering how much it has changed through the centuries.
Once the battle between slayers present and future winds down, Buffy bombards her momentary opponent with a multitude of questions only to become dazed and confused by the answers. “In my time, the slayers have just been called, so we’re kind of flying blind,” she tells Melaka Fray. “How many are you? Worldwide? How many slayers?”
“One half,” Fray responds, referring to the fact that she has a twin brother Harth who received the memories and dreams of a slayer while she only inherited the strength. Because Harth is now a vampire—better known as “lurks” in the future—Fray relies on an old Watchers’ library for information about both her slayer legacy and the distant past. Buffy pours through volumes of journals and books looking for information about what happened to all the slayers from her own time but finds nothing. “I created a race of slayers to tip the scales, to beat back the darkness, to make the world better,” she says to herself. “But they’re not in the books. Not a mention. Nothing. And the better world turns out like this.” Buffy Summers realizes that she failed in her quest, and that failure weighs heavily on her shoulders.
Which is apparently the plan of the “madwoman” who has orchestrated Buffy’s transportation to the future. “She’s lived for centuries, speaks in riddles and strange voices,” Melaka Fray is told about the woman by a vampire under Harth’s command. Fray assumes that the ancient female pulling the strings is a vampire as well but it turns out to be a dark-haired Willow Rosenberg that is manipulating events. The “good witch” of the present apparently went “evil” again like she did in Season Six of the television series and is plotting some sort of revenge against her former best friend from high school.
Willow cryptically explains to Harth that Buffy’s presence in the future assures that “his time will come.” She later tells Melaka Fray, however, that Buffy’s appearance means that her present will never exist. The activation of all potential slayers in the world, after all, is in direct conflict with there being only one slayer 200 years later. In order for Fray’s future to become reality, Willow asserts, Buffy must die or else that future will be changed and never occur. Although insisting that she would never kill a slayer, Melaka Fray nonetheless does battle with Buffy Summers once again in order to prevent Buffy from returning to her own timeline.
The Willow of the present, meanwhile, has found a way to reopen the portal and retrieve the lost slayer. Buffy is able to escape the physical blows of Fray but only to find the Willow of the future blocking her path. “You see what I’ve seen, you come and go as I have,” Dark Willow commented earlier. “You realize the most important thing about death isn’t who dies, it’s who kills them.”
For Willow, that person has to be Buffy. “It’s a long story,” she replies when Buffy asks why it needs to happen that way. With the portal back home closing, Buffy Summers complies and drives her scythe through best friend Willow Rosenberg in order to complete her journey. Upon seeing present day Willow still very much alive, a teary-eyed Buffy immediately hugs her and says, “I love you, Will.” As for Melaka Fray and her future world, time does not end as had been predicted but continues instead, making the actions of Dark Willow even more convoluted and mysterious.
Buffy Summers has little time to dwell upon the implications of her visit to the future, however, as she faces a more imminent threat in her own time—the masked flying villain of Buffy Season Eight known as Twilight. While Buffy and Willow were away in New York City, two of Twilight’s lieutenants unleashed an attack on the Scottish castle that serves as the slayer’s base of operation. Using a mystical missile, Amy Madison and Warren Mears sent an army of “medieval cobra-faced foot soldiers” to the camp that Xander Harris and the remaining slayers were ultimately able to defeat. The setback does not faze Twilight as the “Big Bad” appears to have a larger agenda beyond merely fighting Buffy Summers on the battle field and has now added Riley Finn to his group of followers.
“One slayer was all right but all these girls... the world can’t contain them, and they will suffer for that,” Twilight told Buffy in an earlier installment of the comic book series. “You have brought about disaster, and it falls to me to avert it.”